- Sub-$20 pricing – While a number of their frames/options get into higher price points, it's possible to get a very basic pair of prescription glasses for $6.95 plus shipping, clocking in at about $12 total delivered to your door.
- Website – The website design is quite good, easy to navigate, has a polished feel to it, and is well-done in general. The search section is very easy to use.
- Help bubbles ("?") – virtually every prescription/lens option has a well-written help bubble. Even the search options have mouse-over help bubbles. EyeBuyDirect has clearly gone to lengths to ensure that if you don't understand something, there's an explanation ready and waiting for you.
- Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, Paypal available – these are somewhat minor, but they're one of very few retailers who offer these as payment methods (in addition to standard Visa/MC/Amex/Discover) at this point in time.
- Party Glasses offering – to me this seems a little gimmicky, but if you'd like a crystal added to the lens that will make it sparkle, they offer it for $9.95 extra.
- BBB Accredited with "A+" rating.
- UV protection not included for free – it will set you back an extra $4.95.
- No name-brand designer frames offered.
EyeBuyDirect appears to be located in the US. Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision and bi-focal/progressive lenses, and offer a mailing address, toll-free number, direct line, email address, and an online form as methods of contact. Payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Discover, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, and Paypal. They are listed with the BBB with an "A+" rating.
The EyeBuyDirect website is very well done. Selection is good, it's very customer-friendly, and it's easy to navigate and move through to purchase. Everything is laid out in a simple manner in a way that feels intuitive and easy to use. Frames with basic lenses start at $6.95 (plus shipping) with an ample selection of frames – at the time of writing there were over 100 frames available at that price point.
A couple strong positives in particular about the site: first, the search is laid out in such a way that it becomes very easy to narrow down the selection to the frames you're interested in. Want to see all the $6.95-$14.95 frames? Just use the slider. Have specific size requirements? A couple drop-down boxes there. There are a number of other search options too, and it's laid out in an inviting way – it just feels quick and easy.
Another positive takes place during the order process – all the lens options and prices are laid out on one page, with helpful (concise while remaining informative) mouseover "?" bubbles beside each one. Most of the selection is done via check-boxes, and the way it's laid out feels very up-front when it comes to what you're getting and the cost.
All is not perfect however – I did come across a downside which really rubs me the wrong way. On the main page they have
the "BBB Accredited Business" logo at the bottom. Problem is, they're not BBB accredited. Now, I'm all for trying to make the customer
feel comfortable, but this feels really shady. I hate shady. They were BBB-accredited once upon a time, but they certainly haven't been for
some time now.
Update: They are again BBB-accredited (since late 2014) and now carry an "A+" rating.
As mentioned above, the glasses start at $6.95, and there is a healthy selection at that price. There are far more frames available at higher price points as well, but I'm happy to see that the $6.95 selection does actually feel like a selection rather than a bait-and-switch. The frame selection overall is quite good, and most types (aside from Designer) can be found for under $50 – most being well spread out in the $25-40 price range. This includes metal, plastic, rimless, sport, flexlite, titanium, etc. Frames are each listed in 1 color. Where they have multiple colors offered for a frame, the frame is simply listed more than once.
Single-vision lenses come free with the frames. Bifocals add $19, Progressives add $39, Free Form adds $49, and Tri-focal adds $69 to the price tag. You can select indexes anywhere from the free standard of 1.5 up to 1.74 in most cases. Six tint colors, gradient tint, Polarized, and Photochromic lens options are available as well. Anti-scratch is free, but AR, water repellence, and UV coatings cost extra.
Website and Ordering:
The EyeBuyDirect website is really quite mature. It's very easy to use, has a lot of easily accessible information (mouse-over popups for nearly everything), and has a new-user-friendly feel to it. Images of frames are very clear. The website has an "EyeTry Now" feature which allows you to upload your own picture and see what the glasses might look like on you. When browsing frames, hovering over any frame with the mouse quickly shows the size, as well as whether it's available in single/bifocal/progressive.
An annoyance is in regard to the UV protection (which costs $4.95)... First, I'm not thrilled when companies charge extra for this. Is there anyone who *isn't* going to be wearing their glasses outside? To me it's slightly worse than when a car dealership charges you extra for floor mats. Even more bothersome is that it remains selectable even if you choose Polycarbonate lenses or the Photochromic option (both of which already have UV). It should probably be greyed out in those situations so that people don't unnecessarily spend an extra $4.95 (or think they need to spend the extra $4.95) on something they're already getting.
That all said, overall it's very step-by-step, all the pricing is laid out very clearly, and it's a quick comfortable process in general.
Pricing and Value:
As indicated previously, frames including basic lenses start at $6.95 with a selection of over 100 frames at that point. Additional price points are at $14.95, $19.95, $29.95, $39.95, and $49.95 with a grand total of over 900 frames (though bear in mind some of these are simply duplicates in additional colors).
The standard free lenses come in a 1.5 index. That's quite low, but fortunately lens upgrades are gradual. However it's worth noting that some of the other retailers in the same price range offer 1.56-1.57 index lenses as their base, which puts EyeBuyDirect at a bit of a competitive disadvantage here.
Lens offerings (based on a $6.95 frame):
The main differences in the chart are in availability (for example, you can not get polycarbonate Bifocals or Progressives). Beyond that, upgrade prices tend to be the same. Trifocals act oddly on the order page (no indexes listed, and all coatings are shown as available). I have a feeling the order page may not be accurate when it comes to trifocals.
|Single vision||Bifocal (+$19)||Progressive (+$39)||Free-Form Progressive (+$49)||Tri-focal (+$69)|
|Thin and Lite (1.57)||+$10.00||+$10.00||+$10.00||+$10.00||?|
|Super Thin (1.6) – standard prescription (free AR)||+$24.95||?|
|Super Thin (1.6) – strong prescription (free AR)||+$39.95||+$39.95||+$39.95||+$39.95||?|
|Ultra Thin (1.67)||+$67.00||+$67.00||+$67.00||?|
|As Thin as possible (1.74)||+$78.40||+$78.40||?|
|Anti Glare (AR)||+$6.95||+$6.95||+$6.95||+$6.95||+$6.95|
|Premium Water Repellant Coating||+$9.95||+$9.95||+$9.95||+$9.95||+$9.95|
|Color Tint (brown, green, grey, purple, blue, yellow)||+$4.95||+$4.95||+$4.95||+$4.95|
|Gradient Tint (only available on certain frame sizes)||+$9.95|
|Polarized (only available on certain frame sizes)||+$32.00||+$32.00|
|Photochromic (only available on 1.57 lenses)||+$35.95||+$35.95||+$35.95||+$35.95|
Shipping is a reasonable $5.95 in the US ($9.95 in Canada) with additional "express" shipping options costing more.
The price charts are created by hand – if you notice any errors, please contact me.
Value-wise, EyeBuyDirect looks to be very competitive. For the most basic pair of $6.95 glasses, you're looking at $12.90 shipped in the US ($4 more to Canada). While being charged for something as standard as UV protection makes me feel like I'm being nickel-and-dimed, to be fair all the options are pretty reasonably priced. Heck, if you spend the extra $11 to get polycarbonate lenses (still staying under $25 total after shipping), you're getting free inherent UV for that. And that's not so bad.
For a back-up pair, a low cost pair, or for a first-time buyer who's hesitant to risk a lot of money on their first purchase, EyeBuyDirect is definitely worth a look.
EyeBuyDirect Review (my purchase)
Feb 2, 2009 - An order was placed for a set of glasses during the "2-4-1" sale that EyeBuyDirect.com was having, although I only ordered a single pair of glasses. Browsing through frames and sorting by price, I selected regular metal frames ($17.95) with basic free lenses, and added an AR ($6.95) and UV ($4.95) coating. After using a coupon code for reduced shipping, the total came to $33.85 shipped to Canada.
Feb 23, 2009 - The glasses arrived in the mail. I had actually expected them to take a little longer (since they were ordered during a sale), but to my surprise they made it in exactly 2 weeks which is what I generally expect from most items I order from the US. I was certainly pleased with the amount of time it took.
To my surprise, I was charged duty/tax on the glasses. Normally, prescription glasses are exempt from duty/tax. However, the customs form submitted listed the item as "Sunglasses" (even though they had no tint), with no mention of them being prescription. To add insult to injury, the value was listed as $77.50 – much more than the $33.85 I had paid. Therefore, duty/tax came to just under $20 including Canada Post's $8 handling fee. While the Canada Border Services Agency will probably refund me my $20 once I fill out a few forms and send my actual invoice showing the actual amount paid and showing that they're prescription glasses, this would have been a non-issue had EyeBuyDirect listed the actual price I paid and/or listed them as prescription glasses. Obviously, the customs issue applies to non-US orders only, and this may vary by each country's customs regulations.
Inside the larger shipping box was a smaller one, branded quite nicely. A clear/transparant case was fit snug inside, with the glasses wrapped in what appears to be a microfibre cloth. The case itself was actually pretty impressive. It's magnetically closed, and has a foam strip to keep the glasses from moving around. Inside was a slip with a couple coupon-cards for discounts on future orders.
(click on any of the thumbnails to open the image full-size in a new window)
Basic packaging. you can see the customs info in the first image (although identifying information has been removed). The transparant case in the 2nd photo closes/latches magnetically and has a foam strip to keep the glasses secure.
Altogether the presentation was quite nice and professional.
The nosepads looked like they might need adjusting, but they didn't. The glasses fit perfectly. The lenses had a slight bit of fluff/debris on them (possibly
from the cloth) which rinsed off easily with water. The AR coating has a greenish tint when light is reflected off of it.
Very clear lenses – in fact the digital camera generally focused on an item on the other side of the lens – both frames and lenses appear to be of good quality.
The frames are straight and sturdy. The lenses fit perfectly in the frames, and looking around the edges, they seemed to be cut precisely – really just as
good as any other pair I've owned, and I couldn't find any flaws in this area.
Wearing the glasses, they seem to be optically correct throughout.
One minor concern is the AR/UV coating. I smudged up the glasses, and then cleaned them with a bit of dish soap and some hot water. Now, you're not supposed to use hot water when cleaning glasses (warm is okay) because it's known to cause coatings to crack. That said, I generally use hot water since it works so well and leaves 0 potential for minute scratches. Most AR coatings survive without a hitch. On this pair, hot water does indeed "crack" the coatings, and rather quickly at that. While this won't be an issue for most people (who generally use either a microfiber cloth or a warm-water/dish-soap combo), the relative ease at which the cracking occurred indicates that either the AR or UV coating isn't quite as durable as others. Again, won't be an issue for most, but something worth mentioning.
Do NOT use hot water to clean the lenses, or this will result (only visible in specific light conditions which were created for the photos – glasses are still completely useable unless the light catches it the right way which causes a blur). Don't use hot water, and this won't happen.
Overall I was quite pleased with the glasses themselves. I received them in a very reasonable timeframe, and they seem to be a good-quality pair overall. The packaging was quite good and I have no concerns about any potential for damage during shipping. The customs issue and coatings issue were the only things that I found to be negative.
Would I buy from EyeBuyDirect again?
Would I recommend EyeBuyDirect to others?
Probably. I'd certainly recommend them to US customers since they won't have duty/tax issues. I'd recommend them to international customers as well, providing they were aware of the possible duty/tax they may end up paying. Either way, I'd let them know that they'd be receiving a good, solid pair of glasses, providing they're kept away from hot water.
Below is the original write-up for EyeBuyDirect (from 2006-2009). It's been kept around for posterity.
"High Quality Eyeglasses, Low Everyday Prices"
Coupon code: eyebuypromo
Discount: 5% off all purchases
Expiry Date: none
Coupon code: eyebuygift
Discount: Free Gift
Expiry Date: none
Coupon code: eyebuyfreeshipping
Discount: free shipping on orders over $100
Expiry Date: none
I'm guessing you can't combine coupons, so pick whichever makes the most sense for you.
EyeBuyDirect.com is located in the US. Pricing in USD. They sell single-vision and bi-focal/progressive lenses. They offer a mailing address, regular and toll-free number, email address, and a contact form through their website as methods of communication. Payment methods include AmEx, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, as well as Paypal.
Their website seems to be pretty well designed, and is easy to navigate. They offer budget-style frames at the lower end of the price spectrum ($14.95+), designer frames at the upper end ($79.95+), as well as other styles (rimless, sports, titanium etc) in between. When selecting frame options, there are little help-bubbles available which will probably be quite helpful to first-time buyers (although it only worked under IE, so Firefox/Mozilla users are out of luck).
According to the BBB Reliability report, EyeBuyDirect.com became a member of the BBB in August 2006. The report shows 1 complaint which was resolved.
Pricing seems to be amongst the lowest of all the retailers. $14.95 ($19.90 after shipping) for a set of frames & single vision lenses is very tough to beat, although that price does not include UV or AR coatings.
Unfortunately, EyeBuyDirect.com is relatively new, and therefore hasn't established much of a track-record. Doing a few searches yielded almost no information (good or bad), so it's difficult to say what the typical purchase experience is likely to be from them.
Basic Frames & Single-Vision Lenses $14.95 & up Optional Lens Upgrades Photochromic + $35.95 Bifocal + $19.00 Thin & Lite (1.57) + $25.00 Super Thin (1.6) + $42.00 Progressive + $39.00 Optional Extras UV Coating (note that the description for this says "hard coating") + $4.95 Tint (Grey, Brown, or Green) (20,40,60, or 80%) + $4.95 AR (Anti-Reflective) coating + $6.95 Shipping (direct) US/Canada $4.95 Worldwide price varies - To get an idea, shipping to France would be $14.95.
Note that they also offer FedEx and First Class shipping for an additional cost. A pair of single vision lenses
without any add-ons is only $19.90USD shipped to Canada or the US.
Upgrading to bi-focal lenses without any add-ons brings the total to $38.90USD shipped to Canada or the US.
|Website||Great||The website is nicely designed and easy to use. Adding an online "print your frames to size" option, adding support for other browsers, and allowing the customer to select the frame and then the color (instead of listing the same frame in different colors) would bump this rating up further.|
|Selection||Great||The same frame shows up in different colors when there is more than one color available, which means a little extra sifting when browsing the selection. The selection itself though is adequate when considering any individual frame type, and quite good when considering the entire selection available at all price points.|
|Frame Info||Great||When viewing the list of frames in a category, there is a "more info" button that brings up the frame detail, including dimensions. For some frames, there are also a few pictures of the frame taken from different angles.|
|Lens Options||Great||Both single-distance and bi-focal/progressive lens wearers are accommodated. In addition, thinner lenses are available, as well as photochromic or tint options. This will probably cover the needs of most glasses wearers|
|Value||Excellent||If AR and UV protection aren't important to you, the price is hard to beat. On the other hand, adding AR and UV does bring the cost up above some of the other retailers.|